Our friends at the Hampton Roads Retail Academy have six smart ways to choose from to spend $1,000 on your store:
- Get a Google Business View 360 Tour of your store.
What it is: A stitched together collection of high-resolution photos becomes a 360-degree interactive virtual tour of your store. The photo shoot takes just a few hours, and the Business View 360 Tour can be published on Google in less than a week. It will appear everywhere on Google – in Search, in Maps and your Google+ Local page. Potential customers, when they click on you during a Google search, can explore your entire store… whether they’re on their desktops, tablets or smartphones. The Tour will cost you anywhere from $300-$1000 dollars depending on your store’s square footage.
Why it’s smart: Seeing is believing. Letting potential buyers view your displays, merchandise, and brand from the comfort of their own home, gives them a compelling reason to shop your store over a competitor’s. Seeing your store in a professional way elevates your brand and your clientele.
Caveat: Be ready for a close-up, or like a bad profile picture on a dating site, you will be turning off shoppers.
To get started, go to Google Business view.
- Get your products professionally photographed.
What it is: Hire a professional to shoot your products to look their best. For under a grand, you can get custom shots that make you stand out from your competitors.
Why it’s smart: This will pay off in the long run as you upgrade your website, as you use the photos across social media, and as a way to differentiate yourself from others who carry the same items.
To get started, call a local photographer, or visit Elance to look for a professional in your area.
- Add an e-commerce store to your website.
Why it’s smart: Adding an e-store lets your customers, both current and potential, buy from you 24/7, 365 days a year. It allows you to sell products you already carry in your store, and products that aren’t in your store and are only available online, which allows you to have an endless aisle of choices. If you already have an online store that you designed yourself, and it’s not doing too well, know that a good e-commerce store converts lookers into buyers up to 30% more often.
Caveat: Don’t try to put your entire inventory online to start; curate the best or most requested items and add from there.
To get started, check out Big Commerce.
- Get listed in all web directories.
What it is: Web directories feed your local store information to search engines and other websites. Think Yelp and Facebook, but know there are about 50 other web directories you have never heard of that affect your ability to attract new buyers. Most local retail business information is out-of-sync with those web directories most of the time. Hire Yext, a company that enables you to update and publish your business information on multiple web directories in a timely manner across a vast network. While they work with about 35 of the top 100 chains in the US, their premium plan for a single location costs about 900 dollars for a year.
Why it’s smart: Many local searches give the wrong information to your customers. You know nothing is worse than receiving wrong information. Your shoppers use multiple sources for local information – not just Google; you have to be everywhere and your information has to be current. Yext makes that easy and automated.
To get started, go to Yext.
- Signup for retail sales training.
What it is: Sales training can be done in person or online to teach your employees how to sell.
Why it’s smart: Paying money for traditional marketing like a newspaper or TV ad has a large upfront cost and in the end, lasts about as long as a puff of smoke. Training your employees on how to sell makes the chances of turning every shopper who browses into a buyer much higher. And with sales training, every buyer will have a higher likelihood of leaving with more than one item. That means you get more out of the employees you already have. And the more ofien you close sales, the more those shoppers will spread the positive word to their friends.
Caveat: Just like buying a diet book will tell you to eat less carbs, less fat and exercise more, if you aren’t committed to making the changes in your behaviors, any training you purchase, hire or subscribe to will not bring you results. You have to commit to change.
- Learn your locals’ language
What it is: Either an online course, a course at a local college, or a course like Rosetta Stone can have you speaking like a native of another country for anywhere from $400-$800.
Why it’s smart: Many shoppers with limited English skills may avoid your business simply because no one can speak to them in their language. I learned this the hard way working with a large Hispanic community in Southern California. Your local language might include Russian, Spanish, or French, and though you may not master it, those customers will appreciate your effort.
To get started, go to Rosetta Stone.
There are plenty of ways to spend $1000, just like there are plenty of ways to say you can’t afford it. The only constant in retail is change. Unless you are actively planning on increasing your abilities and your marketing, you will be attracting less and less profitable shoppers to your doors. Begin by choosing one from these six tips, and don’t be afraid to spend $1000 on your business. Continue to work through the list, and watch the increase in your sales.